Fertility preservation for breast cancer patients is possible
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but every day our San Antonio fertility center is committed to spreading the word about fertility preservation for breast cancer patients.
Thousands of women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Thanks to advances in cancer treatments, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer patients is close to 90%. With such a high survival rate, patients can think about thriving after cancer, rather than merely surviving the disease.
According to Erika Munch, M.D., a Texas Fertility Center – San Antonio physician, “Cancer survival rates are much higher than they used to be, so many patients will have the opportunity to live full and productive lives. Family-building is a huge part of that for many people.”
Many breast cancer patients don’t realize that it’s possible to preserve their fertility before, and sometimes even after, starting cancer treatments. “Fertility preservation needs to be a part of the cancer treatment discussion. Patients don’t have to choose between fertility and survival,” said Dr. Munch.
It’s time to start talking about fertility preservation for breast cancer patients
Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer could later build families if they receive the information and treatments they need. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American Society of Clinical Oncology both recommend that any woman who is receiving treatments that could harm her fertility be referred to a fertility specialist before beginning treatments. However, in one study, only 60% of breast cancer patients receive counseling about how cancer treatments could affect their ability to become pregnant, and just 13% of those patients received a referral to a fertility specialist.
To help spread the message about fertility preservation in breast cancer patients, Dr. Munch serves on a committee of physicians at North Central Baptist Hospital to discuss care for patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. Munch discusses fertility preservation options for breast cancer patients and helps coordinate care at our San Antonio fertility center.
According to Dr. Munch, “The cancer world has become so good at curing cancer that we need to become just as good at thinking about the patient’s wellbeing and personal goals after they recover from the disease.”
Recommendations for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer
Dr. Munch has recommendations for patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer or any other form of cancer. “It’s important that patients have a discussion with their oncologist about the effect their treatment will have on their fertility,” said Dr. Munch. Some types of radiation and chemotherapy are more harmful to the reproductive organs. It’s not always possible to avoid gonadotoxic treatments, but patients need this information to make informed choices about their family-building plans going forward.
When it comes to starting fertility preservation after a cancer diagnosis, it’s best to start as soon as possible. According to Dr. Munch, “As soon as a patient is diagnosed, she should get a referral and visit a fertility specialist.” However, it’s never too late to have a conversation about fertility preservation, even if the patient has already started treatment. “There are many different ways of proceeding with fertility treatments and building families. Most individuals and couples have more options than they think.”
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or any other form of the disease, contact us to learn how our San Antonio fertility center can help preserve your fertility.Tweet